Rachel Schwaller


r schwaller
  • Lecturer
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences, Religious Studies, History

Contact Info


Biography

Rachel received her BA and first MA in History at Penn State University focusing in Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology and Biblical Studies. She came to the KU American Studies doctoral program in 2013 and received a second MA and her PhD in 2019. Since then, she has been a lecturer in the Department of History and the Department of Religious Studies.  She was a member of the 2022/2023 American Examples cohort, a collaborative working group of early career scholars in the field of Religion in America, supported by the Luce Foundation. 

 

Rachel has two wonderful children, Fritz and Mechi. She enjoys camping, hiking, reading Fantasy/Sci-Fi/SpecFic, watching Star Trek, creative writing, and playing RPGs and board games—and I mean good board games. Don't you bring Monopoly into this!

Education

Ph.D. in American Studies, University of Kansas
M.A. in History, Pennsylvania State University
B.A. in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies
B.A. in Anthropology
M.A. in American Studies, University of Kansas
B.A. in History, Pennsylvania State University

Research

My dissertation focused on the connection between U.S. white evangelical Christianity and neoliberalism. I traced discourses surrounding work ethic, the "biblical" meaning of work, and free market economics in affiliated (denominational) evangelical magazines between 1940 to the present. I examine how these magazines preceded larger national conversations regarding free market economics and capitalism, limited government, race, and gender. These magazines also demonstrate how modern devotional literature encourages quotidian acts by readers that can lead to national change. 

More to the point, I'm fascinated by the language and narratives that communities tell about themselves and then how those narratives affect culture! My research builds on the fields of anthropology of scripture, scripturalization, and biblicism. 

Research interests:

  • Religion in the U.S
  • U.S History
  • Scriptural Interpretation
  • Conservative evangelicalism
  • White evangelicalism
  • American Studies
  • Economics
  • Neoliberalism
  • Race and Religion
  • 20th Century U.S
  • Ancient World with a focus in Ancient Egypt and Ancient Mesopotamia
  • Biblicism
  • Anthropology of scripture
  • Discourse studies
  • Community formation

Teaching

Teaching is one of the truest joys of being a professor! My courses focus on interactive student learning, active discussion, and co-creating learning spaces. Inclusive classrooms allow us to challenge deeply-held narratives of our own cultural communities. Classrooms allow us to explore our mutual learning together. 

Teaching interests:

  • Religion in the U.S
  • African American Religions
  • Theory and method courses in religious studies and history
  • U.S History
  • Christianity in America
  • History of the Peoples of Kansas/local histories

Selected Publications

Beckley, Rachel E. C. “Relentlessly Pursu[ing] All Who Live in Darkness”: The African Read as Bondage through Devotional Missionary Life Writing. Chapter 6 in Masquerade: Scripturalizing Modernity Through Black Flesh. Scripturalization Book Series. Edited by Vincent Wimbush. Maryland: Lexington Books. 2024. 

 

Beckley, Rachel E. C. (2023) ““I Left My Bible At Home…”: The ‘New Martyr Narrative’ in 1980s Women’s Evangelical Periodicals.” Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts 14.1: 162-176.
 

Awards & Honors

American Examples, 2022-2023 Cohort

https://americanexamples.ua.edu/2022-participants/

“Anti-Racism Pedagogies for the Undergraduate Bible Class: Decentering Whiteness” Facilitator and Coordinator

https://decenteringwhiteness.blog/

Memberships

Institute for Signifying Scriptures; American Academy of Religion